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Student reactions vary over university grading system

By Joy Mazahreh - May 03,2021 - Last updated at May 03,2021

AMMAN — The Higher Education Council’s decision to hold final examinations for all courses and majors in Jordanian universities and university colleges remotely for the second semester of the academic year 2020-2021 has drawn mixed reactions from students.

Final exams for courses that require practical evaluation will be conducted in person while adhering to health and safety procedures, according to the council’s decisions, under the chairmanship of Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Muhammad Abu Qdais.

The decision also included the continuation of the “pass/fail” system, which allows students to choose the subjects to be counted in the GPA. However, this decision excluded clinical-stage students who major in dentistry and medicine.

Yousef, who preferred to go by a single name, is a mechanical engineering student at the German Jordanian University who is not satisfied with the grading system.

“The pass/fail grading system fails to distinguish between hardworking students and those who just want to get by,” Yousef told The Jordan Times.

Yousef said that this system will result in “bad-looking” transcripts that might impact one's chances in getting a job or pursuing graduate studies. 

Abeer Mohammad, an audiology and speech pathology student at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, agreed with Yousef, saying that she is worried about “the negative effect” the current grading system might have on her career prospects once she graduates from university. 

Yazan Abu Al Hija’a, a biotechnology student at Yarmouk University, mentioned that this system “demotivates” students. 

“Many students will face great difficulties upon return to campus and classical education in the classroom because they got used to the laid-back pass/fail system,” Hija’a told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Some students find the pass/fail grading system convenient, especially during virtual learning amid the pandemic. 

Masa Al Hamdan, a civil engineering student at the University of Jordan, told The Jordan Times that the pass/fail grading system is “appropriate” for the current times and that the traditional grading system could be “unproportionately difficult” for students given the unfavourable learning conditions of the pandemic.

Basil, an engineering senior student at the University of Jordan, thinks that the pass/fail grading system was a necessity at the onset of the pandemic and with the sudden switch to online learning, “but this is not the case anymore since we now have the experience and the tools needed for distant learning”. 

“As such, the “pass/ fail” system is no longer a convincing option,” Basil, who preferred to go by his first name, told The Jordan Times. 

The same system applies to postgraduate students. 

Rachel Rabadi, a master’s student at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, told the Jordan Times that this system negatively affects both students and teachers.

 “It affects our competence and it does not reflect our potential. We are not performing as we used to,” said Rabadi.

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